His brilliant idea could become the foundation of future human missions to Mars, as it could provide breathable oxygen to astronauts who will travel on long space missions to reach the red planet.
Dr. Giapis, along with his postdoctoral fellow Yunxi Yao and Tom Miller, a professor of chemistry, managed to demonstrate that each time molecules of water were shot as tiny bullets onto oxygen-containing surfaces, such as rust for example, the molecules of water could produce molecular oxygen by ripping off the oxygen which had been part of the rust.
This reaction is similar to what happens in comets, where vaporized molecules of water are accelerated by the solar wind of space, and then crash back onto the surface of the comet, generating oxygen.
The Greek scientist claims that this process could be used in the future by machines which would generate oxygen for astronauts.
Apart from this, it is believed that the system could help fight climate change as well, by taking carbon dioxide out of the air and then releasing oxygen.
The Greek scientist and his colleagues published their innovative findings in the scientific journal Nature Communications on May 24.
Dr. Giapis is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and a graduate of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the University of Minnesota.